Connect vs. Patriot Hour

Lucy Adkins, Writer

This year marks the start of full in-school learning in FCPS since the pandemic hit, and with that comes many changes to the high school atmosphere that have been present for so long. Wearing masks, socially distancing, and having lunch shifts all have become the new norm. One aspect that is still being debated though, is Connect. 

During the 2018-2020 school years, Patriot Hour was introduced. Patriot Hour was an all-inclusive hour during the day when every student could eat lunch, go to clubs and get tutoring. This was something that had never been attempted before, and everyone had their own opinion on the matter. 

Jillian Carlisle, senior, says, “I liked having the entire hour, I liked being able to spread out my time during that hour how I wanted to, and I liked that you could be able to meet with many clubs in one hour.” 

Another student, Justin Borgen, junior, agrees. “I liked Patriot Hour because it allowed me to socialize with my friends and go to classes when I wanted to. I don’t like having priority classes during Connect because some days I have different priorities.”

Patriot Hour did have many benefits to it, such as it made it easier for clubs and extracurricular activities to meet, and it allowed students to socialize with their friends. But it did come with its faults. The school became very chaotic as all of the students were roaming free at the same time, and teachers especially were given more work and duties during Patriot Hour. 

Mr. Cunningham, a math teacher at TJ, says, “Patriot Hour, for motivated students, was a great thing to use. They got more done, and were more motivated during it, but students who were less motivated were not held accountable, and a large gap between the two was formed.”

On the other hand, others are enjoying the structured schedule of Connect. It is a more COVID-safe option, and for teachers and administration, Connect provides an easier way for them to get in touch with students for tutoring and meetings. 

“Connect has been very successful in allowing teachers to pull students, and it also allows for a brain break for students who aren’t being pulled.” Ms. Venable, a history teacher, says. “There is room for improvement with Connect though, especially during times of transition. Hallways can get very loud and students will hang out in the bathrooms instead of going to class.”

Carlisle says, “I think that by splitting it [Connect], it works well because it’s more organized for the teachers and the administrators but at the same time, not being able to go anywhere during lunch is really restricting. Overall, Connect has been good so far, but I did like having the freedom of Patriot Hour.”

Connect is created to be a more safe, organized environment where teachers can pull students for tutoring, but it also prevents students from getting an hour for them to be able to self-regulate themselves and their classwork. 

“Connect has been excellent, from a teacher’s viewpoint, at getting students the tutoring they need,” Mr. Cunningham states. He continued on to say that Connect has made catching students up on work and making sure they understand what they’re being taught so much easier. 

All in all, both Connect and Patriot Hour give students different and exciting opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. Connect is a more controlled and COVID-safe environment, while Patriot Hour gives students more freedom in their school day.